What is it about?

During the first two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, a study was conducted on parents from Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries to understand how they coped with stress. Unlike most research, which often looks at stress from one source at a time in Western settings, this study examined multiple stressors together to see how they combined to affect parents. Researchers found three main patterns among 545 parents: one group faced stress from work and their children’s difficulties, another just from children’s difficulties, and a third experienced low stress overall. Those in the more stressed groups tended to feel more depressed. Interestingly, the study also looked at how the quality of the parents’ marriages could help them handle stress better, finding that those with better marital satisfaction coped better, especially when dealing with children’s challenges. This study highlights how the pandemic affected parents differently across the MENA region, depending on their personal situations.

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Why is it important?

This study is uniquely focused on the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) regions, areas often overlooked in global research, especially regarding the psychological impacts of COVID-19. It examines a range of stressors simultaneously, such as work-related stress, increased caregiving burdens, and child adjustment issues, rather than just one, offering a broader perspective on the pandemic’s effects on family life. Using latent class analysis, the study identifies specific subgroups of parents experiencing different combinations of these stressors, providing nuanced insights into the varied ways families are affected. Additionally, it explores how marital satisfaction can buffer against these stress effects, a dynamic not frequently examined in pandemic-related research. This comprehensive approach makes the study a valuable contribution to understanding the complex impact of COVID-19 on parental mental health in these regions.


What stands out most is the use of latent class analysis to distinguish between different experiences of stress among parents. This approach reveals the multifaceted nature of stress that goes beyond general statistics, illustrating how individual factors like job stress and childrearing challenges interplay with broader societal conditions. It’s eye-opening to see how the combination of these stressors can lead to varying levels of mental health outcomes and how these effects are moderated by marital satisfaction. This insight underscores the complexity of family dynamics and the critical role of supportive relationships in navigating crises. Personally, this paper serves as a reminder of the resilience and struggles of families during unprecedented times. It also highlights the necessity for targeted mental health interventions that are sensitive to cultural and regional dynamics, advocating for a more nuanced approach to psychological support that considers the diverse experiences of families across different geographies.

Dr. Anis Ben Brik

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: COVID-19 parent stress in Middle Eastern and North African countries: Relations to family adjustment., Journal of Family Psychology, April 2024, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/fam0001220.
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